BULGARIA IN PICTURES
FOR MORE ON MY BULGARIAN ADVENTURES SEE THE BLOG ARCHIVES.
RUSE (РYCE) ON THE ROMANIAN BORDER
Our modestly priced hotel in Ruse surprised us by scattering rose petals across the tasseled bed linens, providing fresh fruit and chocolate truffles, and serving breakfast in a dining room with crushed-velvet armchairs studded with diamonds. The clientele included lots of pretty young women with prosperous older men. “Isn’t it nice seeing so many fathers taking their daughters to breakfast,” Rich remarked. I was surprised the breakfast buffet didn’t consist entirely of oysters and chocolate.
VELIKO TARNOVO (Велико Търново)
The former capital, know as "City of the Tsars"
We'd heard hostels were no longer just for youth, so we booked a private room with bath, a splurge at 21€ ($28).
With no heat in the room, we were very glad for the five heavy blankets, although they weighed so much I could hardly turn over in bed.
The common area. There was also a dining room which was always toasty warm and had plenty of coffee and tea; I spent a lot of time there!
The medieval stronghold Tsarevets (Царевец) dominates the town.
A restaurant in downton Veliko Tarnovo.
The menu at a cafe near the hostel. Prices are in Bulgarian lev, worth about half a euro; a hearty stew, for instance, would cost 1.75 € or $2.36.
The town has launched a huge street art campaign in an effort to win the European Cultural Capital title in 2019. For more street art photos, see my album on Facebook.
Train spotted at the Gorna Oryakhovitsa station on our way from Veliko Tornovo to Sofia.
SOFIA (София), CAPITAL OF BULGARIA
I was immediately charmed by the Sofia’s trendy shops, upscale cafes, and lively street life, glimpsed en route to our new home away from home. Arriving at our rental, I wasn’t daunted by the graffiti-covered front door, knowing that the best apartments often lie behind underwhelming, even grisly exteriors.
“Sorry about the smell,” said our hostess, leading us into a large, chilly apartment that stank of sewage. “There is nothing we can do about it.” She flung open a window, and the temperature began to plummet. “Unfortunately there is no heat. Heat is controlled by the building, and they have not yet turned it on for the year. Let me know if you need more blankets.” There were two cheap ones in the cupboard, none on the bed. Temperatures were predicted to drop below freezing during the night. “I must hurry, I am parked illegally.” And she was gone.
We left our bags in the flat, attached to the radiator (a basic security precaution which seemed doubly advisable there) and went out in search of alternatives. It took us about ten minutes to find a nearby hotel that was perfect. Well, maybe not perfect unless you like smoky glass, glitzy wallpaper, and breakfasts of instant coffee and cardboard muesli, but the room was cozy, warm, comfy, and smelled of roses.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, built about 100 years ago.
A synagogue stands next to the National Institute of Justice.
A trendy Sofia bar; below, my glass of chardonnay, a generous pour for $2.50 (just under € 2)
A Bulgarian friend took us on a tour of the National Institute of Justice. This august meeting room was once the basketball court of a school gymnasium.
If you drink from Sofia's famous mineral hot springs, it's said to be great for your health. A daily drink is said to make you younger. Naturally, we imbibed generously...
Everyone hangs out in Sofia's parks.